In vitro and ex vivo functional characterization of human HLA-DRB1∗04 restricted T cell receptors

J Transl Autoimmun. 2021 Mar 3:4:100087. doi: 10.1016/j.jtauto.2021.100087. eCollection 2021.


Recent advances in single-cell sequencing technologies enable the generation of large-scale data sets of paired TCR sequences from patients with autoimmune disease. Methods to validate and characterize patient-derived TCR data are needed, as well as relevant model systems that can support the development of antigen-specific tolerance inducing drugs. We have generated a pipeline to allow streamlined generation of 'artificial' T cells in a robust and reasonably high throughput manner for in vitro and in vivo studies of antigen-specific and patient-derived immune responses. Hereby chimeric (mouse-human) TCR alpha and beta constructs are re-expressed in three different formats for further studies: (i) transiently in HEK cells for peptide-HLA tetramer validation experiments, (ii) stably in the TCR-negative 58 ​T cell line for functional readouts such as IL-2 production and NFAT-signaling, and lastly (iii) in human HLA-transgenic mice for studies of autoimmune disease and therapeutic interventions. As a proof of concept, we have used human HLA-DRB1∗04:01 restricted TCR sequences specific for a type I diabetes-associated GAD peptide, and an influenza-derived HA peptide. We show that the same chimeric TCR constructs can be used in each of the described assays facilitating sequential validation and prioritization steps leading to humanized animal models.

Keywords: APC, antigen presenting cells; BM, bone marrow; Ca2+, calcium; Cell lines; GAD, glutamic acid decarboxylase; GFP, green fluorescent protein; GWAS, Genome-wide association studies; HA, Influenza hemagglutinin; HLA; HLA, Human leukocyte antigen; HSCs, hematopoietic stem cells; Humanized animal models; MHC, major histocompatibility complex; NFAT, Nuclear factor of activated T-cells; RA, Rheumatoid arthritis; RAG, Recombination-activating genes; T1D, Type-1 diabetes; TCR; TCR, T cell receptor; TCRa, TCR alpha; TCRb, TCR beta; TMR, HLA tetramer; Tolerance; hCD4, human CD4; hTCR, human TCR.